Sunday, January 31, 2016

5 Reasons Facebook is ruining your relationships

Some people don't want to "Be Like Bill"
Obviously, if you spend too much time on Facebook, your relationships will suffer from lack of interaction. When that happens, you may wake up and realize you're living way too much of your life in the social networking zone. What are some other ways Facebook wreaks havoc on your relationships?

Revisiting the past can bring up old issues.

Finding old classmates, friends and relatives on Facebook that you're compatible with can be fabulous. Keeping in touch is important. But why are you getting back in touch with those other people who you never got along with? Those you left behind years ago may have been left behind for good reason. You've changed. So have they. You don't even know each other any more. Getting in touch may spark arguments over unsettled problems that are better left in the past.

Facebook discussions can turn friends into enemies.

Have you ever found yourself texting angrily in “real” life, or being incredibly and unnecessarily rude, only to realize your texts sound like a Facebook comment section gone wrong? There's a reason for that. When you're online a lot of the day, your behavior can't help but reflect what you see and do there. Even if you don't do it yourself. It's a simple matter of behavioral conditioning and desensitization.

Facebook lacks true face time.

It's so much easier to be sarcastic when you're not looking someone right in the eye, isn't it? Plus, the written word doesn't contain the same fluctuations as the voice. It's harder to tell if someone is serious or joking. If you use social networking to advance your career, some Facebook friends are strangers to your real world. It's easier for people to be heartless when they don't have to look you in the face. That can make for an experience that's less than positive.

Facebook brings undiscovered facets of your personality to light.

How well do you know your friends and family? How well do they know you? When I first started posting my vegan, liberal and atheist thoughts on Facebook, I'm sure my family was surprised. They're all pretty conventional. I moved west years ago. They know me as a child, but my views have changed since then. I soon found out that a couple of my relatives and I were almost destined to butt heads due to our opposing views. I suppose we'll never be as close as we once were. Thanks, Facebook.

Facebook memes can be hurtful.

Facebook memes can also be a factor in angering people. This goes both ways of course. I've seen many memes that disappoint or anger me. I'm sure some of the memes I post might get under the skin of those with opposing views as well. What can be done? The thing is, your page is your page. It's up to you what you post there. If you're like me, you like to speak your mind and share your thoughts despite the reaction of others. Still, I have to admit, it's best to keep those memes on the soft side as much as possible. Otherwise, they can ruin your friendships in a quick hurry.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Are Vampires Really Sexy?

Oh, ya, he's a cutie alright. NOT!
Do you think vampires are sexy? Waiting for your chance to be ravaged? Harboring fantasies of living forever? Love the taste of blood on your luscious lips? Are vampires really sexy? Let's think about it a bit before you become the next woman of the dark. Just what is it that you think is so sexy about vampires?

Being ravaged by vampires is sexy? Seriously, I would love to get my hands on the movie producer who first conjured up the idea that women love to be treated like that inane Scarlett O'Hara in the movie Gone with the Wind. "Oh Rhett, you make me swoon!" Barf-a Rama! Sorry fellas, I have a mind of my own and I like to use it. Sink your teeth in to some brainless idiot, I'm running for the hills!
Having sex with a vampire while he sucks your blood is sexy? Call me old fashioned, but I prefer not to bleed out while having sex. It kind of puts a damper on the whole experience. Might work for our friend Scarlett who enjoys swooning so much but I'm just not going for it. Besides, I'm thinking you probably pass out prior to the main event anyway, so what's the point? Plus you have those nasty sheets to change in the morning.

Contracting AIDS is sexy? Hello, is anyone home? This is the age of AIDS people! How is AIDS contracted? By passing blood or bodily fluids from one person to the next. This happens through transfusion, needle sharing, sex and possibly sucking other peoples blood into your digestive system. Think about it. If vampires do exist, chances are they'll all be carrying AIDS.

Do vampires look sexy? Sorry, but I find a little color appealing in a man. Washed out white with a hint of green and black circles under the eyes is not my idea of sexy. Nor do I find fangs appealing. Particularly when they are about to tear open my neck and suck out my blood. I think it might hurt a little. What do you think? Are vampires still sexy to you?

Living forever as a vampire is sexy? Oh sure. Immortality sounds great on the surface. Forget for the moment all the trials in life that make us downright exhausted by the time we reach seventy. What will your eternal life as a sexy vampire be like? Sleeping in a coffin, being chased by pitchfork toting townsfolk, having to depend on sucking necks for survival? I'm claustrophobic, can't run and have trouble swatting flies! No thank-you!

Having a stake plunged through your heart is sexy?
OK now let's cut to the chase. No matter how good of a vampire you are, you will not live forever. How do all vampires die? Well, someone whose loved one they have ravaged and possibly killed finds them sleeping peacefully in their coffin one day and plunges a stake through their heart, grinding and twisting until they are certainly dead beyond argument. Then they explode into the ashes they should have become hundreds of years ago. I don't know about you but that isn't what I have in mind when I say, "I want to go peacefully in my sleep". Being a vampire is not sexy, it's stupid!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Is hating the haters hateful?

Is it wrong to hate the haters?

This hater conundrum is not exactly a rant or a rave. OK, maybe it's a rant. I guess. Sort of. But only because certain kinds of haters tick me off. Which makes me a hater, I guess. But not really.

You see, the only people that really, really bother me are people who discriminate, separate, hate and banter on about what category or group someone belongs in, simply in order to show or prove how horrible that group is or make themselves feel better about their own categorization. In other words, bigots.

And yes, I guess I have to put myself in the so called vegan/vegetarian category. And yes, I sometimes post about it being a better lifestyle choice. But I do not believe that makes me any better than those in the so called omnivore category. In this case, I don't hate the person, anyway. I hate the behavior.

But then, there are people who spend their entire lives belittling, separating and discriminating against those who don't belong in their group, category, country, etc. and bragging about how superior they are to others. It's pretty hard not to hate them, isn't it?

They are hateful, horrible people. And I am sorry if this makes me seem hateful myself, but I do harbor hatred toward them for being so haughty, self centered and inconsiderate of others.

Does that make me hateful too? You know, I don't think so. I think it's OK to stand up against people who purposefully spread hatred or are purposefully rude, mean or abusive. And it's OK to do so simply because they regularly display hateful behavior and are proud of it.

Like Hitler, for instance. How could any decent person not hate him for what he did?

Hatred and bigotry are not good qualities for anyone. They're not acceptable. They're not cute or admirable in any way, shape or form. They're wrong. Plain and simple.

And if someone continually practices those behaviors, they're no friend of mine. And I don't think I'm a hater for saying that. In fact, I think standing up to the haters is both necessary and justified. It doesn't make you hateful. It makes you a strong, caring individual, crusading for peace and love and all that other hippie stuff.

What do you think, though? Does hating the haters make you hateful?

I'm so tired of this mess!

Can we just burn it all down and start over?
I'm a pretty positive person. I believe in the power of positive change. I get up every morning with a smile on my face and great hope for the future. I'm also tired, you guys. I'm tired of watching good people be manipulated into believing lies, half truths and gossip. I'm tired of big business running this world and pulling the wool over our eyes at every opportunity.

So, this blog post is personal. It's not meant to be a perfect example of how one should write a blog post. You don't have to agree with me, or even like what I have to say. It's just about what's bugging me these days. So, here we go. And this is the short list.

I'm tired of people's creature comforts and outdated traditions getting in the way of making simple changes that would save the planet.

I'm tired of people ignoring me when I talk to them or greeting my enthusiastic, happy greetings with grunts and groans and nasty attitudes because they are having a crappy day that I'm trying to make better.

I'm tired of people who don't, won't, can't or simply refuse to think for themselves because it's easier to follow the crowd and go with the flow.

I'm tired of personal gain being the determining factor in some people's decision making process. I'm tired of the “show me the money” mindset that seems to have invaded the hearts and minds of many, otherwise good people.

I'm tired of the higher and higher monetary demands simply staying alive places on people so that they are forced into working themselves to death to support their families.

I'm tired of being poisoned on a daily basis when we have known for a long, long time that chemical solutions and shortcuts are neither sustainable nor safe. I'm also tired of the lies perpetrated by those who profit from chemical usage and the fact that our government goes along with whoever stuffs their pockets fuller.

I'm tired of hearing that going to college and making lots and lots of money to be spent on lots and lots of personal, yet meaningless possessions is the be all, end all of life. I'm tired of kids being pushed to conform to a warped and broken society or poured into perfect little soldier molds. I would love it if we were all respected for the different things we bring to the world, rather than being forced to conform to someone else's idea of who we should be.

I'm tired of listening to (and sometimes participating in, out of sheer frustration) petty arguments over trivial matters while the earth we depend on for survival crumbles at our feet. I'm tired of complacency and a society that pushes us into meaningless battles with our friends and fellow human beings so that the powers that be can easily get one over on us and turn a huge profit.

(I do respect those who are willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe is our freedom, even though I don't agree with war as a solution. I'm just tired of all of us being lied to about what we are fighting for. It's the almighty dollar, not our freedom that's on the line in most cases these days. The enemy is not always who we are led to believe it is.)

I'm tired of watching big businesses and banks rub their greasy little bloodstained hands together in glee while we fall directly into their trap, having been lied to for so many years that we can't discern a lie from the truth.

I'm tired of textbooks being written and/or sponsored by those who profit monetarily from our belief in the things they contain.

I'm tired of people who are supposedly working to improve the planet being bribed, coerced and forced into doing the wrong thing for fear of losing their job or their life.
I'm tired of poor people being blamed for the problems created by some of the ultra wealthy and I'm tired of some of the ultra wealthy taking advantage of their station in life and using it to slyly increase their income to unnecessary proportions purely for personal gain.

I'm tired of people who are trying to do the right thing being mocked, ridiculed and ignored while the people who take advantage of us all are praised and put up on pedestals and more and more of us fall victim to crowd mentality.

I'm tired of people putting others down or having “fun” at someone else's expense or for their own entertainment. Especially when they brag about it as if it were something to be proud of.

I'm tired of proving one's point being considered more important than being kind, trustworthy and of good character.

I'm tired of rude, insensitive bigots being admired for “speaking their mind.”
I'm tired of persecution and discrimination in all of its' ugly and hate-filled forms. Prejudice is wrong. Period.

I'm tired of spitting contests over who has it worse or which cause is more worthy of our attention.

I'm so, so tired of people not willing to budge from their sweet little lives or make any sacrifice at all that would help others to simply survive. It's rude, selfish and unforgivable. And I have been there myself, which is what I'm tired of the most.

So, I'm not doing it any more. I'm not pandering to this ridiculously selfish society we have created out of greed and insecurity. I'm sharing what little I have when I have it to share. I'm working toward real change with diligence (and sacrifice if needed.) Because why does it matter how safe and comfortable we are when 20 years from now, we may very well be extinct due to our own arrogance, lust, greed and gluttony?

Do as you wish. Live as you wish. Close your ears and eyes to the truth if you wish as well. Ignorance is your prerogative. Just remember, the consequences of your complacency and blind obedience are looming in the not too distant future. You may be gone when they hit home, but your kids and grand-kids and mine will be here paying for your choices.

The Iroquois hold a belief that seven generations feel the consequences of both our positive and negative actions in this life. That is, if our selfishness, pettiness and greed hasn't wiped them all out by then.

But how you live is your choice, of course. Except it isn't. Because your bad choices harm all of us. We're in this together.

Note: This is dedicated to my Dad, a man who never made me question his motives or character and who made unselfish sacrifices for the greater good and for us kids every single day of his life. Wish I had told him when I had the chance just how much he shaped my life and what his example meant to me. We could use a few more like him these days.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Stark raving mad ukulele skills.... or not

Peace, love, music!
I haven't had much to rant about lately. I've been much too busy enjoying my life. I'm just not that angry about anything these days. So, I guess maybe I'll do a little raving. Let's see, what do I have worth raving about?

Oh sure, I could do the usual, wonderful friends, wonderful family, peace, love, supportive peeps, etc. etc. But you've all heard all that before, right? Besides, raving is boring. It's not nearly as satisfying as ranting.

Unless you have a ukulele. Because then you can rave about how wonderfully you can play it already. Or not. Because I can't. Yet. But hey, I can spell ukulele now. That's something, I guess.

Oh, and when I practice, things get really quiet from people hiding out where they can't hear me. So, that's something to rave about. Not much privacy with 9 people in the house. You have to take what you can get, you know?

I know three chords. Sort of. I can't remember the name of two of them. But hey, I've got that C down. It only takes one finger too. Awesome! That's right up to speed with my coordination level. No bleeding fingers, that's something, right?

I can strum too. Woo Hoo! Let's hear it for those strumming skills. Because that's about all I can do.

A song? Um, no, haven't gotten there yet. But I will. So, here's to that positive attitude. It makes up totally for my lack of talent I'm sure. Shut up. Yes, it does.

And hey, just the tears of joy when I received it made everyone else happy. That is until they had to suffer through my practice sessions.

Ya, I have stark raving mad ukulele skills alright. At least in my own mind....

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Gods or specks

Human beings. What a magnificent joke we are, right? Or at least a conundrum. Because while we think of ourselves as the be all, end all, highly vital, superior planetary species in many matters (second only to our respective, personal Gods of choice) the truth is, we're just specks in a limitless universe. Or are we something more?

Are we specks, Gods or somewhere in between?

It really is hard to say. And if you think really deeply, you'll soon realize that our air of self importance is quite amusing. Especially considering the vastness of the universe and the insignificance of our relatively inconsequential lives.

On the other hand, we can still make a difference in our own personal world and our undeniably dubious future. In fact, right now, the fate of the entire planet depends on our collective actions or lack thereof. That's huge, right?

But what if we were gone? Would it matter? Wouldn't our departure be an improvement? After all, we are responsible for much of the environmental damage that has rendered earth nearly unlivable. And really the only reason we're able to fix anything is that we're the ones who screwed things up in the first place. So, it's more of a clean up than a Godlike magic act, isn't it?

And then, there is the human ego....

Scroll through any social media venue and you'll quickly start to wonder about the state of our inflated egos. Why is it that we feel our individual opinions, beliefs, etc. are so very important? What does it matter in the scheme of things?

Oh sure, we can have a collective positive impact on our little piece of the universe for the short time we're here.

Still, we're not exactly Gods, are we? Or if we are, we're not doing a very good job. If we were that great, well then hunger, thirst, bigotry, hatred, greed, selfishness, exclusion and all the other atrocities of the world wouldn't exist.

So, we're specks then?

If so, that's OK. Still, we're self important specks, aren't we? Going around arguing or making an argument out of everything from religion to which way the toilet paper should hang on the roll. Truth is though, in the long run, none of that matters. It's all just a pathetic attempt to define ourselves or find some meaning in our otherwise mundane existence.

And what is the meaning of life anyway?

Are we a purposeful plan or a happy accident? In the end, of course, we have to admit that no one truly knows. And yet we go on bickering and battling over religion, land ownership, citizenship, money, power and the like. It's silly, really. Because we created most of the things we fight over. None of them actually exist in the natural world.

So, we're back to being Gods then?

Well, not really. Because Gods don't worship the things they create, do they? It's supposed to be the other way around, isn't it?

Folks, we are clearly just a speck on the face of the universe. Our petty, selfish concerns are just a speck on that speck. On the other hand, if we can push our pettiness and prejudice aside and work for something that really matters, like kindness, compassion and healing, we really can have a godlike impact on at least our little corner of the universe.

But hey, who cares about that garbage? There are wars to wage, sides to choose and people to place the blame on. Plus, there's that toilet paper....

By the way, the correct placement is over the roll, of course. Any idiot can tell you that.

Facebook - Just another cog in the big wheel of societal illusion

We live in a society of illusion my friends. Facebook is just another diversion to keep us from realizing just how brainwashed we ALL are. We're not supposed to think outside the workings of our society and when we do, it's perfectly acceptable to call us anything from conspiracy theorists to mentally unstable.

Our society is broken. Purposefully so. We're convinced that the “other side” is always in the wrong and that our way is the only way, to the point where we can't see the forest for the trees. Truth is, the powers that be are all the same, no matter which side they are on politically. They have to be. Our government doesn't run this country any more. The banks do. The corporations do. And they will do anything they can to distract us from that fact.

We have become exactly what we were fleeing when we declared our independence.

We all have our pet causes but most of us fail to see the connections. And when/if it finally hits us that our capitalist society is nothing but a money-making scheme to benefit the super-wealthy, we are shunned like yesterday's news. Because heaven forbid that we have a thought of or express anything that challenges the system (that feeds those in power and makes criminals out of those who are less fortunate.)

Some of us are perfectly content to live our lives in an artificial comfort zone. Those individuals have their traditions, rituals and mundane pastimes. They occupy themselves so fully with the trappings of society that they have forgotten that said society (and all the other societies) are man-made and completely artificial.

We have gotten so far away from the circle of life and nature in general that we're not even a part of it any more. In fact, we are working so hard to conquer nature that we are jeopardizing our very planet and therefore our existence. And still, we banter on about things that don't matter. We toil away to line the pockets of the super-wealthy obediently, without a thought of why or of finding a better way. We have forgotten that we are natural animals, meant to live within the cycle.

We ARE nature! And yet, we insist on patronizing this broken, man-made, artificial system every minute, every hour and every day of our lives.

Oh, we talk a good game. Absolutely. We have good intentions. But the problem is the same as it always has been. We are trying to change the world within the same parameters that implemented its eventual destruction. That's not going to work, ladies and gentlemen.

We see things like people starving in other countries and mistakenly shrug it off because it doesn't impact us in the short term. We know that in our own country, we are running out of water and other resources, and yet, we continue to suck the earth dry to pander to our own immediate creature comforts.

Complacency is running rampant and that has become so very evident. On Facebook and in society in general, people who truly think for themselves are considered an enigma, a mystery and we just can't wrap our heads around anything or anyone that/who doesn't conform to what we've been brainwashed to believe is reality.

I see others refer to the “sheeple” daily. Problem is, they refuse to see that they, themselves are brainwashed fools in the scheme of things. We all are, regardless of our beliefs or origins. The powers that be want it that way. They also want us arguing among ourselves. It makes it easier for them to remain in control of everything we say or do.

They manipulated us subliminally in the past and now, well, now it's gotten to the point where we are so zombified that they don't even have to hide it. We take sides over everything when there really are no sides. We emulate ridiculous advertisements and their idea of who we should be. We are drowning in stereotypes, false traditions and overwhelming anger, all created by those who profit from it monetarily.

They manipulate patriots and the religious to their advantage, convincing them that the enemy is neither religious nor patriotic and therefore, evil. In fact, they have them so convinced of this that they believe the rest of us are the ones being manipulated, when the reality is that we ALL are. As for the rest of us, they take everything that appeals to our sense of self and what we have been told is right and use it to make themselves wealthier as well.

But the joke's on them, folks. Because they're not just killing us, they're killing themselves. Nature doesn't choose favorites. When the earth dies, we all die with it.

And getting back to the subject, Facebook isn't just a place to post pictures of loved ones, socialize, meet new people, network for business and get in touch with old friends. Maybe that's what it was meant to be in the beginning. But now? Well, now it's just another brainwashing tool for the super wealthy. A way to keep us busy while they take over the world and squeeze all the goodness out of it to amass their fortunes.

Because eventually, they use everything we do to their advantage, even seemingly innocent venues like Facebook.

It's inevitable at this point. Because 75% of us aren't even aware of it. The other 25% are unable to do anything about it because guess who makes the rules?

We are SO delusional.

But hey, who cares? Check out this funny video, dude. Aren't Republicans stupid? Aren't Democrats ridiculous? Aren't those liberals and nonconformists mental? I'll show them. I'll leave an angry comment and engage in a pointless argument with them for the next hour and a half. That'll teach 'em!

Facebook – Just another cog in the wheel.

Opening the horrific doors of a traditionally omnivorous society

Cows have friends and families!
Have you ever considered how you, as a human being would feel if another species became dominant over yours in the matter of fact way that we completely dominate and devalue other animals? I absolutely detest how ingrained animal use and abuse is in this primarily omnivorous society. It sickens me. So sometimes, I just get mad and have to let it out.

If you're vegan or veg, you'll probably fully understand this. If you're not and you're not open minded, well, you probably won't even try. I'm OK with that. To each his own and all that crap. Although, it would certainly be nice if you tried for the sake of the rest of the planet. But maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't be OK with this:

Do you know that billions of land animals are bred and killed every year for human use? What a great life, right? Created for the sole purpose of being used/eaten. Being thought of as a product, not an individual. Billions of them. Billions!

Do you know that it's estimated the oceans will be devoid of life (fished out) in less than 40 years?

Do you know that there's no such thing as a humane animal farm? They all die sooner or later at the hands of humans who are OK with having the job of killing them. Plus, the horrendously painful yet routine procedures they endure without anesthetic on even the “humane” farms is unacceptable.

You realize that it hurts to have your throat slit, be skinned alive or be castrated without anesthetic, right?

You do realize that other animals have families, friends and lives independent of whatever we are using them for, right?

You do realize that when we take away calves or young goats from their mothers so that we can drink their milk, turn it into cheese or turn babies into tender meat products, the mothers grieve for those absent children, right?

You do realize that those babies need their mothers just as much as you need your mother, right?

But do you really think about it? Do you really connect with the harsh reality that other animals who feel the same things we do are being enslaved and tortured daily?

By eating meat and dairy, you are indirectly doing all these things to several hundred animals a year, even if you're the sweetest, kindest omnivore on the planet. Plus, an omnivore diet is a huge contributor to the destruction of that very planet. You know, the one that we depend on for survival?

Follow the links. Read the articles. Then tell me this:

If you're not vegan or at least vegetarian and you give even half a crap, what are you doing?

*How do you live with yourself?
*Why is this all OK with you?
*Why do you pay for it to happen?
*Is eating animal products worth the consequences?

I love all my friends, vegan or not, don't get me wrong. But loving them doesn't mean I understand how in the world anyone with a decent heart could do this or support this madness with a clear conscience.

I do know one thing, though. Prying open the doors that reveal the truth about what we eat is frightening. They cannot be closed. What's behind them is terrifying and cannot be unseen. The sheer volume of cruelty we humans perpetrate daily on other animals is beyond belief. It's heart wrenching. Maybe that's why so few people are willing to open their eyes, their hearts, their minds and do a little non-monetarily influenced research.

And maybe that's why those who do dare and care (like me) are so damn annoying to those who don't. Because we can't know these things and just let them happen. It just isn't in us to be that cruel, complacent and inconsiderate of the feelings of other animals and the fate of our planet. We have to speak up. Because the alternative is not only the death of billions of other animals yearly. It's the death of human animals too. It's the complete and utter extinction of every living thing on this planet.

Yes, it's that bad.

Doing a good deed daily and turning the other cheek

Give it up for Sister Bernadette!
I went to Catholic school in my elementary years, you guys. I'm not sure what grade it was, but there was a whole campaign in the Catholic schools at the time entitled, “Do a Good Deed Daily.” Now, as a natural rebel, I didn't normally fall for the subliminal brainwashing perpetrated by the church, but somehow, this campaign seeped into my noggin and stayed there. And believe it or not, my idea of what that should entail doesn't differ that much from that of the nuns that had the displeasure of putting up with my rebellious butt.

Score 2 points for Sister Bernadette! Oh sure, it could have been my arch enemy, Sister Virgo but I liked Sister Bernadette better so I'm giving her the credit.

Now, like every other thing in my life, I probably take the do good thing a bit to the extreme. Damn that helper gene! But really, in today's world, how can you possibly do too much good?

So, I have a weird way of looking at things compared to most. And that's the point of this whole spiel. You have to know that the nuns also taught me to turn the other cheek. After all, they wouldn't be proper nuns if they didn't. And I sort of agree with that too, but maybe I take it to a different level.

The older I get, the more pain I have gone through. Some of that pain has been caused by the actions of others. You see, when you turn the other cheek, you tend to resent those who aren't as kind and understanding to you as you are to them. That resentment can make you downright miserable.

And now, the revelation.

Turning the other cheek and doing a good deed daily do not make you some sort of humble martyr. In fact, they do just the opposite. Because when you turn the other cheek, you are placing the responsibility for unkind actions, words, thoughts and deeds, right where it belongs. That is, in the hands of the perpetrator.

Oh, snap!

So from now on, when someone treats me like crap, lies, cheats, steals or is just generally a mean person, I vow to remain true to my kind nature. I will treat them kindly. I will not return their rudeness.

I refuse to go through sleepless nights and worrisome days because I have not done anything to deserve that. I will go about my business and allow them to stew, steep and live in their own deceit, guilt and anger if that's what they wish to do. And who knows? Maybe my patience will pay off, love will seep in and they will change.

But if they don't, that's their choice and their burden as well.

I refuse to carry it or be made miserable by it.

I think the nuns would be proud of me.

Taking away my rights is no way to defend your own

This is how they actually used to salute the flag.
 If you want to tote the belief that this should be a free country, you must also understand that yours is not the only opinion or belief that should be allowed. There are other people living here who do not share your personal beliefs. They should be just as free to express their convictions as you are, whether they coincide with yours or not.

You may hear me say from time to time that I disagree with someone. However, you will never hear me say that they can't express what they believe. For instance, I make no secret of the fact that I detest Donald Trump and feel he has no business in the White House. However, you won't hear me say that he has no right to give it a shot.

I also find it strange when people dig up things to complain about and defend that aren't even happening except in their own minds.

For instance, the pledge with “under god” included and personal prayer are both allowed in schools, on an individual choice basis, at least here in Colorado. I can actually hear the kids reciting the pledge over the loudspeaker every morning from the public school that's a couple blocks away. I very clearly hear that most kids include "under god." My grand-daughter went to that school and has told me that both practices (prayer and the “under god” portion of the pledge) are options, rather than requirements now. Kids are free to do both/either as long as they are not required for ALL students as ALL students are not believers.

Another good example that hits close to home for me:

Those so called "pushy vegans and vegetarians" who shove our beliefs down people's throats. We are spreading the word about something that excites us and informing those who haven't made the connection that the connection exists. You are free to ignore us, believe us, do your own research, join us or come to a different conclusion altogether and continue doing things as you always have.

But please, do not tell us that we do not have the same right as everyone else to stand up for and promote our beliefs just because they make you uncomfortable or differ from yours.

Do as you wish, absolutely. But do not take that same right away from those who disagree with you.

You will notice that I never complain that people are telling me I shouldn't be vegan or vegetarian, even though I deal with this discrimination daily. That's because I feel that all people have a right to express their opinion, even when it differs from mine.

The issue I have, though, is when people tell me that I can't talk about what I believe in as well, protest against the things I don't believe are ethical or call me pushy when I do.

Going back to the first example, I also have no issue with kids praying or using the phrase “under god” in school, as long as it isn't forced on them. If you want personal choice, you have to allow it for those with opposing views as well.

Taking away my rights is no way to defend your own.

Cecil the lion justifiably, yet ironically bemoaned

Aren't all animals special?
One injustice does not outweigh another. A tragedy is a tragedy is a tragedy. People are right to bemoan the loss of Cecil the lion. They are even right to insist his killers be brought to justice. What doesn't seem right, at least to me, is the irony of the situation. For Cecil is being bemoaned by folks who think absolutely nothing of killing other species by the millions daily.

As for me, I also felt the sting of Cecil's story and the horror of his fate. It's incredibly painful to even think of. Harder to comprehend the sheer cruelty and selfishness involved. However, I'm trying to create a peaceful existence by staying away from the kinds of thoughts I'm about to express. But this one? Well, this one I cannot let go.

You see, on the same day that the news of Cecil's demise broke, I happened to read an alarming statistic. Did you know that at any given moment there are, in the US alone, 3 times the other animals awaiting slaughter as the entire world population of human animals? Three times the world population! Why is that necessary, even if you do believe in consuming and using animal products? And remember, that's just in the US. Go ahead, look it up. It's the absolute truth.

I also read several posts by “animal lovers” that same day and in the following days, who were absolutely enraged at Cecil's untimely and violent death. Nothing wrong with that. I applaud them for speaking up.

Except that the majority of these very “animal lovers” eat the flesh of other animals, thereby calling for their slaughter on a daily basis. In fact, some of them actively practice the slaughter and enslavement of other beings at least 3 times daily. Huh. There's that number 3 again. Do you think there's a possible correlation?

Now, even the dentist who killed sweet Cecil will tell you that Cecil was special. There's no denying that. In fact, that's why he apologized for his behavior. Because this lion, among all the other lions, was a special lion who did not deserve to be killed.

Really? And were the other billions of animals put to death that day all over the world just not special enough? Were they not innocent enough? Who is championing their cause? Well, vegans and vegetarians, of course. You know, those nut-balls that drive you crazy all day with their Facebook posts asking you to think of the animals, the planet and the health and well being of human animals as well?

Why are these people shoving their “beliefs” down your throats instead of simply championing the cause of special animals like Cecil?

Could it be that they feel every single being on the face of this earth is just as special as Cecil?

Could it be that their conscience needs no brick to the head for it to formulate the thought that those other animals have just as much right to life as any other being, yourself and poor Cecil included?

Could it be that their vast research has revealed the truth about the role animal agriculture plays in planetary destruction and human health and they just can't ignore it and hope it will go away?

Why no, not at all. It can't be.

Because then, you would have to admit that the entire basis of our culture is based on using animals and that Cecil isn't special at all. He's just one more victim in the endless procession of animals being led to their unnecessary deaths daily by the supposedly superior human animal.

And that's too big of a pill for some folks to swallow.

Every child is both gifted and imperfect

Let's stop labeling and categorizing our kids, shall we?
This has been “bugging” me for a long, long, time. I am literally appalled at these people who insist on describing their child as gifted. By whose definition? You see, in my eyes, every child is gifted. In my eyes, putting some children on a pedestal and leaving others out of activities that could indeed help all children is not only ridiculous, it's a great way to encourage low self esteem in both groups of kids.

Now, before you start throwing random accusations of jealousy at me:

My kids and grand-kids have all been identified as gifted by the school system at one time or another. Whoopity-doo! I could care less about that. I'm only mentioning it so you don't think I'm some kind of jealousy filled hater. My kids and grand-kids are awesome and full of potential, even by conventional standards. So what? So is every other kid in the world, if you care enough about them to see their potential.

What about kids with obvious mental and physical limitations?

Well, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but they are every bit as gifted as your child. Each and every individual on this planet is gifted in some area or in some way. Regardless of how they are viewed or how they may seem to be, all kids are gifted.

Your child is “smarter” in general?

By whose definition? What is your definition of smarter? Some kids are book smart. Some kids are people skills smart. Some kids are intuitive. Some kids are more physically inclined. Some kids have mastered the art of small talk. Some kids find themselves at the head of the class. Some are wonderful healers. Others are great teachers. All those skills are valuable. Not all of them are included in the school system's definition of gifted, though, are they?

Still, some kids seem to be good at everything, don't they?

Is that what you mean by gifted?

Well, once again, I have news for you, they're not THAT special.

We all have our areas of imperfection too. And your gifted child, who is told they are gifted, held up to higher standards and sorted out of everyday normalcy, is going to be damn disappointed when they discover that they're just an average person after all. We all are. And they're also going to feel damned inadequate when they can't live up to their gifted status in some areas.

And aside from all that...

Most kids would benefit greatly from the individual attention they would receive if included in “gifted” activities. All kids have a special spark inside of them that no one else has. All kids benefit from bringing out that spark. And worse, some kids feel inadequate when they're not included with the gifted kids. Why on earth would we support a program that specifically states that one child is smarter than another? It's just begging for superiority and inferiority complexes to be formed. Plus, it's a big, fat lie.

Every child and consequently, every person....

Every person on the face of this earth is gifted in multifaceted ways. There are no exceptions. And every single person benefits from developing their own personal talents. There are no exceptions. So let's stop making our kids feel either inadequate or superior. Let's stop singling them out, one way or another. Why not just give every kid the best education possible, regardless of our own opinion of their potential or lack thereof? The result could be a generation of well adjusted kids who value each other equally and respect each others beautifully flawed personalities as the true gifts they are.

Imagine that!

Why your eating habits are not a personal choice

Constantly stuffing your face isn't just bad for you, it's bad for everyone and fatal for the planet.
Ah, the personal choice argument. I get it. Really I do. But when your personal choice impacts others, it's not simply your choice any more. It truly angers me the amount of selfish behavior going on in the world that's chalked up to the rights of the individual.

My friend, rights are put in place to protect everyone, not just you. Plus, I'm sorry to inform you of this, but rights are a human invention. They do not exist in the natural world. They may be politically correct, but honestly, many of them are quite selfish in nature. They leave out the interests of the people who love and care for you and even those who don't.

Do you have loved ones? Most of us do, even if we don't particularly care for them. Your bad eating habits could mean they won't have as much time with you as they could. When you literally kill yourself with your food choices, it's not just bad for you. It impacts everyone around you.

Think of the funeral costs and other bills you leave behind for others to take care of. Or even the bills you owe to others. Your untimely death leaves people hanging who were depending on your payment in order to live.

Think of the nights that your loved ones will spend crying for you, missing you and wishing they could have had you in their lives longer.

Your bad eating habits may be your choice on the surface, but it's a selfish choice for sure. Plus, look a little deeper into your choice. You'll see that it's not your choice at all. At least not if you're a caring individual.

That's because there is the environment and the starving people to consider. Maybe you didn't know this, but the way you eat and your food choices make up the largest human behavioral impact on the environment and world hunger, not to mention our dwindling water supply. Yup, even before fracking and other “big oil” practices. Yes, even before carbon emissions.

That unhealthy, gluttonous diet you adhere to is killing the planet and taking food and water out of the mouths of starving people all over the world. That's particularly true if your diet is largely animal product based. I'm not going down that path here because it's beside the point. Give it a look up for yourself.

The point is that when you argue that your diet is your personal choice it makes you sound extremely cocky and selfish. It makes you sound as if you believe that appeasing your taste-buds is far more important than your loved ones and everyone else in the world. 

My goodness. No wonder people in other countries hate us. Our ingrained societal beliefs are so selfish!

Certainly, it's not your fault that you were brought up to believe that everything you do is a personal choice and you have the right to do whatever you want as long as it appears that you are not directly harming anyone. But it is your fault if you continue to insist that your choices come first, once you learn the truth about the harm those choices do.

Perhaps that's why so many people choose to close their eyes to the suffering, pain, environmental damage and food and water shortages they cause with their food choices. They don't want to know the truth because then, they would have to change their ways. And change is scary. Particularly when it takes us out of our comfort zone.

I'm having a hell of a time going vegan. I slip up sometimes. I like my comfort food too. But, you know what? I'm still trying. Because for me, at least, well.... I don't think of the way I eat as a personal choice any more. I think of it as something positive I can bring to the world.

If I can put one glass of water or one bowl of food in front of someone who is hungry or thirsty by not overeating.... If I can stay alive to spend one more day with the people who love me by eating healthier....Well then, I feel better about “my” food choices and about myself.

That being said, I don't think I'm any better than you. I have to fight my societal ingrained tendencies just as hard as anyone else. I'm not perfect.

How about you? And think about it, please. Is your food choice a selfish one? You don't have to go vegan to make a difference. Although doing so has been proven to make the most difference. But why not at least try to make an effort to eat right and eat less? You'll feel healthier and so will your inner spirit. It won't hurt. I promise. Practicing a little unselfishness never hurts anyone. In fact, it's good for you!

And for heaven's sake, please stop chalking up your gluttony and consumerism to personal choice. It's selfish and inconsiderate of those who have nothing. People are starving. Little children are dying daily of thirst and starvation. Stop consuming mass quantities of food you don't need.

Try to be respectful with all your choices! Just try.

You'll be glad you did and so will everyone else on the planet.

The value of being pissed off and showing it

What are YOU looking at?
Yes, you heard me right. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being angry or expressing your anger. I get so sick and tired of all this positive speak. Why? Because that's all it is. It's just talk. There is a positive and a negative side to every single thing that happens in the world. And it's OK to be pissed off at injustice and it's OK to shout it to the rooftops.

Sure, I have a blog about the positive side of Lupus. That doesn't mean I don't hate, hate, hate, the negative side. And it doesn't mean I'm afraid to talk about what a pain in the ass it is to have a chronic illness. It sucks! It blows. It's a steaming pile of crap! There, I said it. Did the world come to an end. Nope!

That's because, like it or not, we need to be negative sometimes. We need to talk about the horrors of the world. We need to make it known that while life may be a bowl of cherry blossoms for some, others may be stuck with that half empty glass. Or, even worse, maybe there's nothing in their glass at all and no way to fill it anytime soon.

When we get pissed off enough to talk about what's bugging us, we make more people aware of the issue. And when more people are aware of negative issues, problems get solved. So, go ahead, get pissed off. Mount your soapbox. Stop hiding behind your bubble of positivism. It's OK to be angry. And it's certainly better to pop that bubble before someone pops it for you.

Roar! It's what you're here for.

Am I 100% vegan? Are you?

Two things inspired this post. Number one is the rude comments vegans get about driving cars using fossil fuels, etc., etc... The other is those vegans who are so purist, it's crazy. Folks, there is no such thing as 100% vegan.

The point is, to make an honest effort to be as compassionate, environmentally aware and minimalist as possible to preserve the earth for future generations and save other animals from unnecessary use and abuse.

Of course, for some, it's just about the diet.

That's OK. At least they're doing something! Leave them alone so they can continue on their positive journey. Maybe they'll surprise you in the end. Or not. Because. Like it or not, you can't run other people's lives for them.

And yes, I'm talking to you non-vegans too. If you want us to respect your choices, it's time for you to stop those silly rants about us shoving our beliefs down your throats every single time we mention being vegan or have the audacity to protest animal cruelty.

Last I checked, we all have a legal right to protest (in this country, at least). Yes, even us vegans. Denying a group of people the right to protest or speak up about their beliefs or express their opinions freely, makes you sound like a bigot. If you're not one, I suggest you stop acting like one.

And some of us slip up.

That could be through no fault of our own, simply because we accidentally eat something we thought was vegan, but is not. 

It could also be because we're human or we're just not quite at our goal yet.

Or, we could just tumble head first off the wagon. It happens to the best of us.

That doesn't make us any less vegan.

There is no way of knowing...

We cannot possibly control every single detail that impacts our lives, vegan or not. We cannot possibly know every little ingredient or practice that goes into our food or other products.

It's OK to call yourself vegan, even if you're just starting your journey.

Of course, if you're eating greasy burgers, left and right (or drinking gallons of milk and smothering everything with cheese) you probably shouldn't use that term. But if you're making a concerted effort to do no harm, well, you're vegan, no matter how vegan you are, as long as you are moving steadily forward to reach your goal.

Defining yourself as vegan will help your progress.

It will keep you from slipping up. You don't want to be a hypocrite, after all. It will also help in social situations. If you only say you're going vegan, people might still serve you non-vegan foods, at parties, etc. On the other hand, if you say that you are vegan, they'll be more careful and so will you.

And yes, vegans know.

We know there are idiosyncrasies in today's society that make it downright impossible to be vegan. We know there are other issues in the world. But guess what? We also know that going vegan is the lifestyle change that has the most impact in solving many of those issues.

So, when a vegan says they're vegan....

They know it's not 100% because that's impossible. However, they also know that they are giving this lifestyle change their personal 100%.

Get real and get off your high horse.

No human behavior, vegan or otherwise holds a 100% guarantee of perfection. No human being is 100% perfect. It's just not possible. So, all you “perfect” vegans and rude, non-vegan critics, please get off your high horse. You're not perfect either.

Plus, riding horses is unnatural. It hurts them. And that's not nice of you, whether you're vegan or not.

See what I did there?

The day the tree went down and I went down with it

Ya, that would be the window well there, under the tarp....
Ha ha ha Not even kidding. Adventures in tree trimming to the max. Last summer, I started trimming away at this tree we have a love/hate relationship with in the front yard using some long handled cutters. It was slow going and I soon learned it was an impossible dream.

So, out comes the saws-all. I was making great progress and then, it happened.

I'm walking around the tree to find a good angle. “Now let's see, if I step right there, that should do it.”

Oh, that did it all right. Because “right there” was in the window well. Bam! Down I went, scraping my elbow on the brick of the house, one leg in the well, one out, twisting my hip as I went. Ya, it was like that.

But guess what, you guys? I survived. In fact, I crawled out like a champ and finished the job. My daughter held the big branches so at least they didn't knock me out. I don't need any more injuries. I was really sore for some time because Lupus and Rheumatoid love to attack injuries. Oh, sure.

But hey, aren't you proud of me?

Well, except the the dumb-ass part where I stepped into the window well, anyway? Ha ha ha I guess I won't be landscaping for a living but still, it was fun times and I learned something.

In fact, maybe I'll add “Don't step in the window well, while trimming trees close to the house, you dumb shit!” to my next tips article. Ha ha ha

But seriously, don't.

F*** your Turducken

Pardon my language. I get very upset at mass consumption. You all know that I'm going vegan, but even if I weren't, I would still hate the turducken. There are food and water shortages all over the world, you know? People are starving to death daily. Do you really need to consume mass quantities of food like some high power garbage disposal? Do you really need to kill several animals for one meal? F*** those turduckens!

They're such a slap in the face to those who have nothing. So are the ridiculous food orgies we always have for every holiday we invent. They make us look just as bad as those corporate jerks who get subsidies for being job creators while they pay their employees so little they have to rely on government assistance. When did it become OK to flaunt your abundant wealth in such an indiscriminate manner?

And yes, even though you may not consider yourself wealthy, when was the last time you drank dirty, disease infested water just because that's all there was? Never? That's what I thought. So, f*** your turducken and that stupid pie/cake thingamajig as well. Get a grip on your gluttony.

Overeating is bad for you. It's bad for the planet. It's bad for the animals that die to feed you. It's just plain bad. Plus, it's probably the most inconsiderate behavior you could engage in while there are little children dying of hunger every single second of the day. Ya, every second.

Why not take that money you were going to spend on stuffing your face to capacity and beyond and use it to help someone in need. Have a simple meal and be truly thankful for what you have. Don't just give it lip service or joke about your expanding waistline. You'll feel better and who knows? You might just save a life in the process.

Red rubber boots, plastic bread bags and more

Ahhh, those were the days!
I got reminded of all this by a Facebook meme a few days ago. Anyone else have their Mom stuff their stocking feet into plastic bread bags before putting on their boots as a kid to keep their feet dry? And how about those red rubber boots with the fasteners on the side that used to slip over your shoes? Remember wearing snow-pants with the suspenders and the straps on the feet or snowsuits to school over your clothes? If you grew up in upstate NY, or anywhere else cold as a witches unmentionable body part, chances are, you know what I'm talking about.

I wore my little red boots until my shoes would no longer fit into them. I remember being very relieved because those things were pretty embarrassing for a 5th grader. That is, I was relieved until my Mom gave me her highly unfashionable and quite large, slip on pleather boots to wear. To this day, I remember being so embarrassed when my friends wanted to compare sizes. I guess when you're a kid, you never think about things like, “Hey, my Mom is going without her boots so my feet can be warm.”

Anyone go to Catholic School? They had lunch tokens shaped like stop signs at ours. I was always so nervous when I had to go buy them from the office lady, who was, of course, a nun. All the employees in our school were nuns. Remember how intimidating nuns could be? One day, I lost my lunch token in a snowdrift. I froze my fingers off digging to no avail. Oh, the look I got when I went slinking into the office with that story begging for another, bowing my head in shame.

You upstate New Yorkers who grew up in the 60's and 70's, some of these memories are just for you. That was an interesting time, wasn't it? Funny, though, we didn't mind it as kids. Remember how your nose used to freeze shut or get “snot-cicles” in the winter from the humidity and frosty air? How about that snow/ice hitting your face like a pack of overzealous needles?

Remember how your Mom would have that homemade hot cocoa waiting for you when you came inside? Kind of made it all worthwhile, didn't it?

Remember jumping or sledding off your roof into or down or under or over the humongous snowdrifts of the lake effect blizzard of 77? Remember how we got out of school for a couple weeks, got “stuck” at our friends' houses? No? Just me. Bwa ha ha ha. My bad? Shhhh! I did it on purpose. Good times!

Remember hitching a ride on army personnel carriers to get to the store?

I'm sure that some of my old school friends are saying, “Hello, I still live here in the frozen north country. Some of these things still happen to me.” Hey, they happen to me too, even though Colorado is where I hang my hat and coat. It's pretty frost here sometimes too. It's just different now. You know what I mean? My little red rubber boots went the way of my innocent spirit. I don't own any snow pants either. In fact, I'm not even sure they still sell them. Nuns don't frighten me any more. We get blizzards here too. Big ones. But I'm a bit too old to jump off the roof.

Or am I? Maybe I'll go find myself a pair of red rubber boots and give it a shot next time we get dumped on by the white fluffy stuff.

Ahhhh, memories....

Careful, your inner bigot is showing

Just stop it already! People are constantly bashing one race to lift another. People are grouping each other, separating each other, bragging about their heritage (yes, I mean that and I'll explain why) and just generally causing gaps between the connections we all have to each other in the name of being identified and identifiable. All this separatism and individualization is bigotry, plain and simple.

Our opinions are nothing but a compilation of life experiences, connections with others and the influences of the whole of nature

Understand, that we are never alone, even in our thoughts!

Man, “beast” and all things natural, we are all in this together. We are all one connected, diverse and beautiful entity called the natural world that can work like a well oiled machine if we let it. Until we realize that and let go of our need to be someone special and separate, there will always be prejudice, racism, religious persecution and every other kind of persecution as well. And the world will continue to be a fucked up place to live.

So, reach out your arms and embrace the whole of us. Unity feels great! Man, other animals, plants, rocks and the whole of nature put off a powerful energy force together. And if you see that a part of that whole is failing and needs help, reach out and lift it up, don't kick it to the curb. There is nothing imperfect in the entire natural world, including our “selves” that we haven't MANipulated to appease our own selfish desires. That selfishness, my friends is at the heart of all bigotry.

We are living against, not with the natural rhythm of the world we were born into. That's the whole problem as “I” see it.

And, oh right, about that heritage thing. Please, oh please, stop going on and on about your heritage and how proud you are to be x, y or z!

It's OK to say you're happy about your heritage or you relate to the ideals of your heritage, but you DID NOT ACCOMPLISH your heritage. You were born with it. You did nothing to achieve it and therefore, there is no reason for you to hang your selfish pride on some flagpole and salute it.

Plus, we are all related, somewhere along the line. It's been scientifically proven, over and over. If you go back far enough in your DNA stream, we are all family.

Mi casa es su casa! Come on into “my” life and take your shoes off cuz! Let's work on this shit together!

Oh wait, one more thing, about those true accomplishments that you do think you deserve to be proud of. Shut the fuck up! You did not get there alone, so the bragging rights for those are not yours either. Everything that everyone has accomplished in their life is a result of energies, experiences and circumstances created by the entire natural world and everyone and everything in it. We do nothing “on our own.”

We are not separate. We are one.

We ARE nature. It's not separate from us. It IS us.

But we're fighting it, tooth and nail. And until everyone sees this and starts acting like it, well, we are going to get exactly what we are living: A big, ugly ball of messed up, unnatural, chaotic confusion and separation with no sense of belonging, peace or unity in sight.

Because separating each other into neat little categories, no matter how positive those categories sound has nothing to do with unity.

It's bigotry in disguise.

That is all.